soar-logoWASHINGTON (7/26/14) — In his keynote address at the White House Rural Council’s Rural Opportunity Investment Conference, Gov. Steve Beshear discussed economic opportunities in Kentucky with investors, rural business leaders and government officials and highlighted the Shaping Our Appalachian Region or SOAR initiative.

“We encourage you to ‘Think Kentucky,’” Gov. Beshear said. “Check out the many opportunities to invest in Kentucky’s rural areas. We have a lot to offer, and opportunities are arising every day.”

The Governor outlined Kentucky’s publicized success as a national leader in education, economic development and health care, saying the state has gotten aggressive about confronting historic challenges.

“Why this whirlwind of activity?” he said. “Because as Kentucky struggled to survive the recession, we decided that mere survival wasn’t enough – we didn’t want to emerge shell-shocked and shattered but able and ambitious.”

The governor touted Kentucky’s efforts to create a stronger, more educated and healthier workforce, saying it has inspired investors and companies to take a closer look at the state.

The conference, organized by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, focused on how to propel the growth of small businesses across rural America.

The Governor in particular singled out SOAR as a “game-changing effort to rejuvenate eastern Kentucky.”

“It’s the brainchild of Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers and myself and provides the structure for investment and the support systems to assist growing enterprises, as well as strong state and local leadership to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs,” Gov. Beshear said. “People who invest money, time and energy into the SOAR region should be reassured that their investment will be treated not like a handout but as a catalyst for economic development, jobs and capital.”

The Governor emphasized numerous SOAR initiatives, including a more than $100 million plan to expand high-speed broadband service in the state, beginning in eastern Kentucky, as well as the $382 million investment to four-lane the Mountain Parkway to bring commerce to and from the region.

Success in those efforts and others have come because the state has engaged the local region, nurtured many public-private partnerships, and has taken advantage of resources at all levels of government, Gov. Beshear said.

At the conference, the White House Rural Council announced the creation of the new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in job-creating rural infrastructure projects across the country. An initial $10 billion has been committed to the fund with greater investment expected to follow. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure.

“I applaud the efforts of Secretary Vilsack and his team to find new approaches to support job-creating projects across the country,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is a very similar approach we are taking with SOAR to integrate public, private and philanthropic investments to improve a region.”

Earlier this year, the Governor and Congressman Rogers joined Secretary Vilsack to announce the expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s StrikeForce Initiative into four additional states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia. Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties – 73 total – are a part of the StrikeForce. The USDA is partnering with local community organizations, businesses, foundations and universities to support local projects and pursue needed investments into these rural areas.

“This program has brought more than $220 million to Kentucky in grants and loans for things like water and sewer infrastructure, homeownership financing, and business development and retention,” Gov. Beshear said.

In January, SOAR received an immediate boost when the White House designated eight counties in eastern Kentucky as a “Promise Zone” – the only rural region selected.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Office of the Governor

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Two Injured During Two-Vehicle Collision

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (5/3/15) ― Two people were injured during a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of East Noel… Read More

Public Works Department Declares 'War on Potholes'

OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/3/15) — Winter weather has done its usual damage to city streets. Frequent freezing and thawing… Read More
1 DOW 18,024.06
+183.54 (1.03%)    
2 S&P 2,108.29
+22.78 (1.09%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,005.39
+63.97 (1.29%)    

Most Read This Week

April 28, 2015 4074

Search for Stolen Vehicle Ends with Woman Charged…

by SurfKY News
April 27, 2015 3416

Online Petition Seeking Re­opening of Shanice…

by Samantha Carver, SurfKY News
April 28, 2015 3279

Man Charged with Stalking Smoke Shop Clerk

by MPD
April 27, 2015 2829

Hopkins County Drug War ― Are We Winning?

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
April 30, 2015 2715

Family Says 'Goodbye' to Dog After It Allegedly…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 15299

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 23, 2015 8414

Man Charged with Sodomy, Incest/Victim under 12

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 02, 2015 1083

Frymire’s Life Accomplishments, Dedication to MCC…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 01, 2015 847

Above and Beyond: Leighann Stroud

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
May 03, 2015 803

Two Injured During Two-Vehicle Collision

by SurfKY News
May 02, 2015 631

Don't Bet on Supreme Court Overturning Marriage…

by Richard Nelson
May 02, 2015 576

Homegrown by Heroes Receives Donation from…

by Ted Sloan
May 02, 2015 548

Weeknight activities the whole family can enjoy

by SurfKY News
May 02, 2015 525

New Mather Metals to Expand in Franklin

by Office of the Governor
May 02, 2015 486

Hooked on Science - 'Kentucky Derby Balloon Race'

by Jason Lindsey
May 02, 2015 460

Happenings, Meetings Listed for Following Week

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News